Is Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) emerging as a Tea Party kingmaker? Politico reports:
It used to be that grassroots conservatives who aspired to run for the Senate would make a pilgrimage to see Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in hopes of winning the imprimatur of the kingmaker and champion of conservative orthodoxy.
Now, just six months into his freshman year, the 40-year-old Republican junior senator from Utah has joined DeMint as a must-see for GOP candidates hoping to channel the energy of the tea party movement. He’s emerged as the second-most important conservative go-to guy in the Senate-and with DeMint’s pledge to not to marshal his resources against Republican incumbents this cycle, a meeting with Lee is essential for candidates battling the party establishment.
Lee came to the Senate as a giant-killer, taking out an entrenched Republican incumbent. Since getting there, he has joined Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in compiling a constitutional conservative voting record. If Jim DeMint won’t be as active in the GOP primaries in 2012, it would be helpful to have a conservative like Lee getting involved.